By Henrik Bjerregaard Nielsen, Client Director Mannaz A/S
The 2018 project management survey from Mannaz and Roskilde University (RUC) highlights a clear trend for higher complexity and more agile project management. However, surprisingly, it also shows that more than 80% of respondees have no idea who is responsible for obtaining the desired value from projects.
Do you have complete control over who is responsible for the outcome of the project you are managing? If not, your organisation resembles many others. In a new survey on project management conducted by Mannaz and RUC, only about 13% replied that they have a firm grip on who is responsible for benefits realisation.
Article contribution from Mannaz A/S
“That’s very surprising. Because ultimately it means people are initiating something without knowing if they’ll benefit from it. If you don’t have clear responsibility for realisation, your project could end up being a waste of time,” Henrik Bjerregaard Nielsen, project management consultant at Mannaz, underscores.
The respondees in the project manager survey replied that the greatest problem with benefits realisation is that too many projects are started up, and it’ s also unclear who is responsible.
“So, there’s huge potential in safeguarding the value of what you are setting in motion. Anything else seems rather sloppy, a bit half-hearted and random,” says Henrik Bjerregaard Nielsen.
“The project managers can’t cope with everything, so some project owners and managers should assume responsibility.”
A complex world
In recent years, Mannaz and RUC have regularly explored the progress of project management in Denmark to monitor new developments concerning project managers. The previous survey was conducted in 2014.
This year, 1,740 people completed the questionnaire – three times as many as in 2014. Over 70% of the respondees this year have more than seven years of project experience.
Benefits realisation is one of the new subjects featured in this year’s survey. In addition, selected questions regarding complexity and agile working methods were included once again to facilitate comparison with responses from the 2014 survey.
In relation to project complexity in organisations, the survey clearly shows that levels of complexity and unpredictability are growing, as indicated by e.g. stakeholders’ changing needs and requirements during projects. Another issue adding to the complexity is the increasing number of distributed projects and the relational challenges they bring.
When asked to explain the project complexity, one third of respondees mentioned decision makers’ unrealistic expectations.
“If the decision makers don’t realise what has to be delivered, or the expectations are not aligned, of course the complexity will be high,” says Henrik Bjerregaard Nielsen.
Paradoxically enough, only 41% evaluate project complexity initially.
“If you start a project up without knowing the complexity, you’re starting out with a high-risk scenario,” says the project consultant.
Ways to assess the complexity of a project:
The increasing complexity and the agile method are linked because the method is useful for navigating in an agile context – a complex and changeable world.
In 2014, about 40% of respondees had worked with the agile method, whereas in 2018 the figure is 60%. The method is clearly gaining ground, and from being more exclusively used in the IT industry, it has now begun spreading to other industries, and similarly, scaling to whole organisations is also more common.
The survey asked why the project managers work with agile methods. Respondees mentioned that it was partly to be better at dealing with change and deliver products faster. No one mentioned it was to save money.
“It fits in well with the purpose of the agile working method. And ensuring that what you create is linked directly to the business,” says Henrik Bjerregaard Nielsen.
According to the respondees, it also seems there is good consistency between the reasons for using agile methods and the effect people experience as a result – precisely because it is easier to manage change, deliver faster and align the business and the project better. Scrum remains the most widespread method.
When asked what they gain from using agile methods, the respondees said:
The project management survey also explores the general challenges project managers face. In first place we find the same top scorer as in earlier surveys: Obtaining sufficient project resources.
A generally positive trend is that there are signs of increased professionalism in the context of traditional project management. This is represented by the more frequent use of project models from the three organisations PMI®, IPMA and Prince2®.
Bearing in mind the growing complexity and unpredictability, this is especially interesting because the agile methods are becoming more popular – precisely because they attempt to manage the complex and changeable world.
About the project management survey 2018
The project management survey is conducted by Mannaz and Roskilde University. The survey dives into some of the most topical subjects within project management, such as complexity, agility and project benefits realisation. It is one of the most in-depth surveys, and this year was based on responses from 1,740 respondees who broadly represent various sectors, project types and project roles.
Facts about the respondees:
- · 72% have more than 7 years’ experience with project work
- · 66% fulfil the role of project manager
- · 17% are project participants or project coordinators
- · 56% have a higher education
- · 35% have a medium-level education
At https://www.mannaz.com/da/konsulentydelser/program-og-projektledelse/projektlederundersoegelsen-2018/ you can see the full report (in Danish).
About Henrik Bjerregaard Nielsen
Henrik Bjerregaard Nielsen is Client Director and project management consultant at Mannaz and PMI-PMP®. He has more than 25 years of experience from a range of international industries such as consulting engineering, construction, oil and gas, shipping and IT. Originally a construction engineer, for the first five years of his career Henrik was engineer responsible for design, after which he took the plunge and moved to management, project management and change management. He is passionate about creating results through efficient project management; planning and executing projects in organisations, involving stakeholders and managing and safeguarding the project’s business case.